Prolonging the magic: ‘Error 53’ story becomes the story


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Good news, technology writers! This ‘Error 53’ thing looks like it might turn into a perpetual motion machine, giving you something to write about for all eternity.

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and secret elephant grave yard, Ewan Spence says “Apple Has Lost Control Over Controversial Error 53”.

It’s an uncontrollable twister of emotional pathos wrapped in a whirlwind of Apple’s jack-booted control-freakism!

The technical reasons for Error 53 have been partly lost in the conversation.

Who has time for technical details when there’s so much frothing at the mouth to do?

But it’s not the technical issues that I find the most intriguing part of the story – it’s how the story has created its own myths, what the story says about Apple’s attitudes to users, and the question of Apple’s PR response.

Ah, the story is now the story! That’s perfect. Now people don’t have to do anything but he said/he said reporting. Makin’ it rain links, y’all!

Apple says that the breach of security that lies behind Error 53 is irreversible, but I can’t help thinking that there must be a way to re-establish the relationship.

I can’t help it! I also can’t stop clipping my fingernails too short! It’s called a compulsion, Gary. I’m sick, OK?

Along with many others, iFixit believes that “repair professionals should be able to unlock devices—and that they should have access to the same parts and the same tools that ‘authorized’ repair shops do.”

To be sure, Apple should be handling this differently from both a technical perspective and a PR one.

But once you open the kimono, how do you keep out the kitsune? The Macalope’s going to quote Rich Mogull again:

I consider this actually a pretty essential security feature. If you modify that trusted pathway, it should break. That’s consistent with hardware security best practices, like on encryption hardware.

Put it this way, this is the kind of feature that helps keep the NSA out of your phone.

Is it irresponsible to suggest that Spence is objectively pro-NSA getting into your devices? No, it is irresponsible not to.

Apple’s almost pathological need to keep the iPhone ecosystem secure has resulted in an App Store which is far safer than the Android ecosystem.

Security is now “pathological” compared to convenience. This is hysterically self-serving coming from a “publication” that denies you access to its “content” (please know that the Macalope is literally making sarcastic air quotes every time he types these) unless you turn off your ad blocker so it can jam no fewer than 37 ad, social media and tracking scripts down your virtual throat, some of which are injecting malware.

By the way, let the Macalope digress to take exception to a sentence from that piece by NetworkWorld’s Andy Patrizio:

This problem is not with Forbes, it's their ad network's responsibility.

No. You own the experience on your site. If your ad network is letting advertisers inject malware into their ads, that’s the experience you’ve chosen and it’s on you.

Yes, Apple’s definitely got some things to clear up here but despite the melodrama, they actually got the most basic part right. And it is not at all surprising that Forbes doesn’t get that.

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